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Dear Lucy. Dear, sweet Lucy. Lucy lives on a farm with Mister and Missus, but the only person who is truly kind to her is Samantha, who lives there with them. Lucy finds it difficult, sometimes. She doesn't always have the words she needs. She tries very hard to be good but sometimes her helping is more of a hindrance. But she knows more that people think. She knows that although Mum Mum sent her to live on the farm, she will come back for her one day. That is why Lucy must never leave the farm, otherwise Mum Mum won't know where to find her.
But when Samantha runs into trouble, Lucy is torn. Should she do as her brain says and stick to the rules she's been told, or follow her heart and her gut and break them in order to save a friend? Samantha is the person she would normally get advice from in these situations, but without her Lucy has to turn to a new and very special, if rather yellow, friend.
This is the sweetest book I've read this year by far. Lucy is not like other girls but because she's telling us the story we focus on who she is and what she can do rather than who she isn't, and what she can't. Indeed, as the story progresses it soon becomes clear that Lucy might be one of the more normal ones, despite her label, if the various mothers in the book (hers, Samantha's, Missus) are anything to go by.
This is a truly lyrical read with a surprisingly well developed plot, something I'm not saying because I doubted the author (this is her first novel, so there's nothing to compare it to) but because I thought it might focus solely on Lucy's struggles with existing as an extraordinary person in an ordinary world. Instead, though, there is mystery and intrigue, there are baddies and goodies and an old preacher man. There is a rather spectacular chicken with a mind of its own, and a race against time to save the day and make it all ok again. Though it starts quite slowly, it soon picks up pace and towards the end I really couldn't tell how it would turn out, especially when I saw how few pages were left for it all to work out ok.
I really enjoyed this book, and found the writing style refreshing. Lucy is so matter of fact about the way she says things, and yet not everything in the book is childlike. It's very well imagined, and quite sad at the same time as Lucy is such an outsider with no hope of changing this. And yet, she's an optimist, because she doesn't know any better. Because no one has told her that life can be tough and mean and that she shouldn't be so cheerful and up front, shouldn't take people at their word. It's the sort of book that makes you question the type of person you are and whether it's the type of person you want to be. And while perhaps no one would wish to be quite like Lucy, there's an awful lot to be learnt from her.
This review first appeared on www.thebookbag.co.uk
Dear Lucy is out now in hardback, paperback and on Kindle